Thursday, May 27, 2021

Krista Davis Comes Through Again with Diva No. 14


Falling in love with a cozy mystery series can be the proverbial double-edged sword. On the one hand, I get all excited when I get the latest edition. It’s like catching up with old friends you haven’t seen in a long while. 

However, there is always the risk of the newest installment not living up to the previous books. We cozy mystery fans have all experienced the decline in a well-loved series. It starts when we come to the end of a book and think, “Hum, that wasn’t as enjoyable as I’d hoped.” 

Thank goodness that hasn’t happened with Krista Davis’s Domestic Diva series! 

I just finished reading The Diva Serves Forbidden Fruit, number 14 in the series, and I loved it! In this edition, event organizer and domestic advice expert Sophie Winston is in the middle of Old Town Alexandria’s Home Decorating Festival. Still, she has time to pick up her best friend, Nina, at the airport after she returns from a trip to Portugal. However, when Sophie finds one of Nina’s traveling companions dead the following morning, she wonders just what went on during that trip. Perhaps the clue scratched into the soil by the victim before dying will hold the answer. 

While the story takes place in the well-known Washington D.C. suburb, it has some international intrigue and a possible smuggling operation woven into the plot. When another traveler turns up dead, Sophie worries her friend is next on the list. 

The book was enthralling from the first paragraph to the last. There was a surprise at the end, which made me both laugh out loud and cheer. Plus, it was lovely to catch up on all the goings-on with Sophie, Nina, Mars, Bernie, Humphrey, and of course, Natasha, the other domestic diva in the book who antagonizes everyone. 

Natasha doesn’t have as prominent a role in this book as the previous ones, which I found to be a relief. She is pretty annoying, though Davis is good at giving her some redeeming qualities to keep us from wondering why Sophie remains her friend. Still, it was nice to only have her pop in from time to time as part of an entertaining subplot to the main story. 

Of course, the book also ends with some tasty recipes. I can’t wait to try the Mango Peach Salsa, Chocolate Mayonnaise Cupcakes, and Pear Upside-Down Skillet Cake. 

Since it’s the start of berry season, I made the Berry Pecan Coffee Cake. Buttery and full of blueberries, it’s the perfect partner to my morning cup of coffee. 

To learn more about Davis, visit her website here. She also has a Paws and Claws series that is perfect for animal lovers, and a Pen and Ink series for the artist in all of us. 

You don’t have to read the Domestic Diva series in order, but if that’s your style, the first one is The Diva Runs Out of Thyme.

Other recipes from Krista Davis's mysteries I have posted about in the past include:

Garden Veggie White Pizza from The Diva Digs Up the Dirt

Sunset Boulevard Cocktail, also from The Diva Digs Up the Dirt

Cinnamon-Pumpkin Muffins from Murder, She Barked

Yield: 9
Author: Linda Ditch
Berry Pecan Coffee Cake

Berry Pecan Coffee Cake

Adapted from a recipe found in The Diva Serves Forbidden Fruit by Krista Davis, who gave permission for me to share this recipe. It is easy to make and perfect for breakfast or an afternoon tea break. Make sure to take the butter and eggs out of the fridge ahead of time to allow them to reach room temperature.


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 stick (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 packed cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • For topping:
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 3 Tablespoons softened butter
  • 2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place the pecans on a baking sheet and toast for 5 to 6 minutes or until fragrant. Set aside.
  2. Lightly grease a 9-inch-square pan and line with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit but with the sides long enough to lift the finished cake out of the pan.
  3. Place the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon into a bowl. Mix with a whisk or a fork to combine. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, cream the butter with the sugars with a mixer. Add the eggs and beat until combined. Then alternate adding the flour mixture with the applesauce, beating between each addition, until smooth. Fold in the blueberries. Spoon the batter into the prepared baking dish.
  5. To make the topping, chop the pecans and combine them with the butter and brown sugar until combined. Sprinkle in lumps over the top of the cake batter. (The topping will melt and sink while baking.)
  6. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the center is set and a cake tester comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, and then remove it to a wire rack to cool for another 10 minutes or so. Serve the cake warm.
Created using The Recipes Generator

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Summer Fun in Wichita

Photo credit: Visit Wichita

It seems a lot of us are anxious to hit the road this summer. I don't know about you, but I want to spend time exploring any place that is not my house! LOL! Best of all, you don't have to plan a big, expensive vacation when the fun is right down the road. In my case, it's just a couple of hours down the Kansas Turnpike to Wichita.

Starting Memorial Day weekend, Visit Wichita will launch two tours that not only allow visitors to explore the city's many sites but also some of its best brews. 

The all-new Wichita Attractions Tour allows visitors to discover the many world-class attractions and museums in the city and get entered into a drawing to win a 2022 family season pass or membership to all 12 participating attractions, as well as one Wichita Wind Surge home baseball game of your choosing. The participating attractions include Botanica Wichita, Exploration Place, Field Station: Dinosaurs, Kansas Aviation Museum, Mid-America All-Indian Museum, Museum of World Treasures, Old Cowtown Museum, Sedgwick County Zoo, Tanganyika Wildlife Park, The Kansas African American Museum, Wichita Art Museum, and Wichita-Sedgwick Co. Historical Museum.

Old Cowtown Museum
Photo Credit: Visit Wichita

To participate, you can pick up a passport at Visit Wichita's visitor's center or any of the participating attractions and museums and begin exploring from May 28 to Labor Day, September 6. Once you visit at least six participating locations, turn in your passport to Visit Wichita (in person or by mail, 515 S. Main St., Ste. 115) by September 13 to be entered into the drawing. A winner will be drawn on September 17, 2021. You can find complete details and contest rules a

For us beer and coffee lovers, the other tour is the return of the Wicked Brew Tour, featuring some of the city's top breweries and coffee shops. This tour started in 2016 but had to skip last year due to…well, you know why. We all know why!

You pick up a passport at any participating coffee shop or brewery and then collect at least ten stamps to complete the challenge and win a t-shirt (available on a first-come, first-served basis). 

Photo credit: Visit Wichita

Participating breweries include Augustino Brewing Company, Central Standard Brewing, Hopping Gnome Brewing Company, Nortons Brewing Co., PourHouse by Walnut River Brewing, River City Brewing Co., Sweet Allie B's Limestone Beer Co., Third Place Brewing, and Wichita Brewing Co. & Pizzeria (West & East).

The participating coffee shops are Churn & Burn (Northeast & Southeast), Cocoa Dolce Chocolates (East, West & Downtown), Fairmount Coffee Co., Il Primo Espresso (East & Downtown), Kookaburra Coffee, Leslie Coffee Co., Placeholder Coffee, Reverie Coffee Roasters, Sunflower Espresso & Food Truck, and The Donut Whole.

You turn in the completed passport and pick up a t-shirt at the Visit Wichita visitor's center Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you can't make it there before you head home, just mail your completed passport and contact information to the visitor's center to have a shirt sent to you. 

The complete details and contest rules can be found at

Photo credit: Visit Wichita
Growing up, I visited my great-aunt and great-uncle in Wichita a few times. I remember their red-brick bungalow house with its big front porch, complete with a swing, and the cherry trees in the backyard. However, we never did any of the tourist-type activities.

I'm looking forward to exploring the city and sharing what I find with you. 

Stay tuned!

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Morning Starts with The Roasterie

Does this sound familiar: The alarm goes off way too early in the morning. As you remain snuggled in your cozy bed thinking of all the excuses you have for not getting up, one thing emits its siren song to lure you into starting the day—that first cup of coffee. Knowing its rich, delicious, comforting goodness awaits in that first sip convinces you to get going with hope for the morning.

Okay, I know, it’s just a cup of coffee. But those of us who love it tend to wax poetically about the magical powers the perfect grind can provide. I didn’t start out as a coffee lover. Tea was my beverage of choice until my late 30s when flavored creamers became popular. Those creamers also helped mask the flavor of the, well, let’s just say, less-costly brands of coffee I was familiar with in those early days.

Today, I stir a little sugar and milk into coffees offered by area roasters. The ones made by The Roasterie in Kansas City are my favorites. I buy bags of the American Restaurant for making big pots and K-cups of the Breakfast Blend for when I’m in a hurry for that first cup and don’t want to wait for the entire pot to brew, or if I only have time for one cup in the morning. 

The company describes my two favorites as follows:

American Restaurant (which is number one on my list of all their blends): 

“In the mid-1990s, we were fortunate to collaborate with Kansas City’s famous American Restaurant on a custom blend to be sold at their restaurant. Several years later, the restaurant’s management thought it might be time to update the blend. They assembled some of their favorite customers for lunch and a coffee blending session with the goal to outdo their current coffee offering. After sampling many coffees in many different combinations, the group realized that the existing blend was perfect and so loved by their customers. Notes of stone fruit and apple, balanced with a medium body, rich and smoky in the finish.”

Breakfast Blend (a close second): “Our Breakfast Blend is bright, clean, energizing and easy to drink. So up and at ’em! Start your day with a cup or two of this eye-opening blend. Notes of ripe berry and citrus, round and balanced, crisp, clean finish, light roast.”

The company offers subscriptions, which they call putting your favorite order on autopilot. I get my coffees delivered every month via UPS, with free shipping. When you place your order, the coffee is air-roasted and packaged within 24 hours, ensuring freshness upon delivery. (Trust me when I say the aroma when you open the box is heavenly!)

My order usually arrives with a cute, hand-written note, which is a nice touch. 

When I want something different, I’ll order Betty’s Recipe blend, which has flavors of hazelnut and cinnamon—my two favorite coffee flavors in one cup! I also like the KC Chiefs-inspired blends, but that may just be because I’m a huge fan of the team.

FYI: The Roasterie is not paying me to write this post. I just enjoy their coffee so much I wanted to share it with you, especially since it can be shipped around the U.S. Once they open back up after Covid restrictions are lifted, I plan to take a factory tour and try out a barista class. 

If coffee is your passion, look at The Roasterie website to check out their many coffee blends and learn more about the company.  

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Mango Macadamia Breakfast Bars


I love cookies for breakfast.   

Now I’m not talking about chocolate-chip or sugar cookies, but the type that feels somewhat healthy, such as oatmeal cookies and fig bars. With yogurt or a cheese stick on the side for protein and maybe a piece of fruit (usually a banana), I feel satisfied and ready to start the day. 

When I came across Jamie Oliver’s Buddy’s Flapjack Biscuits video, I was intrigued. Of course, to me, flapjacks mean pancakes—in other words, breakfast.  However, in the United Kingdom, a flapjack is a baked bar made with oatmeal, and biscuit means cookies.

It still sounds like breakfast to me! 

The recipe was straightforward, calling for 100 grams of every ingredient. And the list was short—unsalted butter, oatmeal, self-rising flour, golden syrup, and a mix of dried fruit and nuts. Once measured, everything goes into the food processor, where it whizzed together to make the dough.

Are you using a food scale yet? Seriously, measuring with the scale is not only more accurate but also easy. No need for measuring cups! I was inspired to buy one after watching many episodes of The Great British Baking Show. Mine is from Oxo, and I love it.  

This recipe came along at the right time since I wanted to try baking with self-rising flour, which is flour with baking powder and salt already mixed in. Many old recipes call for it, especially one from the South and several UK recipes.  (I use the Hudson Cream brand milled in Kansas.)

I also had Lyles Golden Syrup, also known as light or golden treacle in the UK. In Jamie Oliver’s original recipe, he suggests substituting honey, maple syrup, or sugar. I would go with honey since the consistency is very much like golden syrup. (I get my golden syrup on Amazon.) 

You can use whatever mixture of nuts and dried fruit you like, as long as the combo comes to 100 grams. My first attempt at the recipe had hazelnuts, peanuts, and walnuts combined with dried blueberries and cherries. They tasted great! 

However, my heart was craving something tropical. Last year was the first in a long time where I didn’t take a trip to an island destination, and I was missing the beaches in Hawaii, the Caribbean, and Key West. Then I remembered enjoying the Anahola Granola Bars in Kauai, especially those with bits of mango and ginger. 

Which is how this recipe combination was born. I used macadamia nuts, dried mango, and a bit of crystallized ginger in the mix. Next time, I may add a bit of coconut, too. 

These bars are crumbly and not too sweet, which makes them perfect for breakfast. I also like to crumble one on top of yogurt or munch on one to appease any hunger pangs in the afternoon.

Yield: Makes 16 bars
Author: Linda Ditch
Mango Ginger Breakfast Bars

Mango Ginger Breakfast Bars

Based on the recipe for Buddy's Flapjack Biscuits from Jamie Oliver, these bars are perfect for breakfast or an anytime snack. You can use whatever dried fruits and nuts you prefer to make your own favorite flavor combo.


  • 100 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 100 grams old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 100 grams self-rising flour
  • 100 grams mixed macadamia nuts (50g), dried mango (40-45g), and crystallized ginger (5-10g)
  • 100 grams golden syrup or honey


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Put all of the ingredients into a food processor and pulse until the mixture comes together into a dough. Press the dough into the prepared pan to make an even layer. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown.
  3. When you remove the pan from the oven, cut it into 16 bars while still warm. Then allow the bars to cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Next, lift the bars out of the pan with the parchment paper and place them onto a wire rack to finish cooling. Store in an air-tight container.
Created using The Recipes Generator

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Burrito Skillet


Seriously, this skillet dinner is one of the simplest meals to put together on a weeknight. And one of my favorites! I also love how easy it is to change up this recipe depending on what you have in the pantry and freezer. No black beans? Use pinto or kidney beans instead. Prefer ground turkey or chicken instead of beef? Go for it! Or skip the meat and go vegetarian, or even vegan by using non-dairy cheese. I like brown rice in this recipe, but you can easily use white or cauliflower rice instead.

I serve my burrito skillet with chips, salsa, sour cream, and guacamole on the side. (I love to crumble chips over the top for some crunch!) This dish also makes great leftovers for lunch the next day. 

If you're looking for more Mexican-inspired recipes (Cinco de Mayo?), check out my post here for these delicious selections. 

Yield: 4 to 6
Author: Linda Ditch
Burrito Skillet

Burrito Skillet

A one-pan, easy weeknight dinner when you're craving something Mexcian.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound lean ground beef, turkey, or chicken
  • 1/2 green pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 packet favorite taco seasoning
  • 1 10-ounce can diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • Grated cheese of choice


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the ground meat, green peppers, and onions. Cook until meat is browned and vegetables softened.
  2. Stir in the black beans and corn. Sprinkle the taco seasoning over the mixture and stir to combine. Then add in the can of tomatoes. Simmer on low until the mixture thickens up a bit. Then stir in the rice.
  3. Spread grated cheese over the top of the mixture. Cover the skillet with a lid for a minute. When the cheese has melted, the dish is ready to serve.
Created using The Recipes Generator